Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, email@example.com
COLLEGE STATION – Three former students were chosen for Outstanding Early Career Alumni awards, while four alumni were honored with Outstanding Alumni Awards during the recent Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Legacy and Leadership Banquet held at the Brazos County Expo in Bryan.
Outstanding Early Career Alumni Award recipients were Bridget Wasser, Chris Brundrett and Heather Salopek. Outstanding Alumni Award recipients were Dr. Joe Townsend, Emanuel Glockzin Jr., Vickie Kloeris and Graham Weston.
The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes graduates of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for outstanding leadership and significant contributions in agriculture, natural resources, life sciences or related areas. The Outstanding Early Career Alumni Award recognizes and honors graduates who have been graduated 15 years or less for outstanding leadership and significant contributions in career, public service and/or volunteer activities.
Wasser, a 2001 graduate, is executive director of the Meat Science and Technology for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Centennial, Colorado. According to the award nomination, “she is known as an expert scientist and an influential educator who exemplifies Aggie core values.” A native of Eagle Lake, Wasser graduated with a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 2001 and a master’s degree in animal science in 2005. While working on her master’s degree, Wasser managed the meat science research laboratory and worked on several high profile research projects in addition to teaching ANSC 307 meats labs and assisting with multiple AgriLife Extension and outreach activities.
“It was no surprise that Mrs. Wasser was highly recruited for her first position in National Cattlemen’s Beef Association,” wrote nominator Dr. Cliff Lamb and head of animal science at Texas A&M in College Station.
Wasser has made numerous presentations related to beef quality research and innovations in beef production and cutting styles throughout the U.S., Taiwan, and Great Britain on behalf of the Beef Checkoff program. These industry presentations help key individuals and companies understand innovations that have been made and how beef can be merchandised to better meet the needs of consumers.
“In a very short amount of time, Mrs. Wasser has become recognized as one of the key thought leaders and decision makers in the beef industry, and she continues to make positive differences in meat science discovery to help increase the demand for beef,” Lamb wrote.
Brundrett, a 2006 horticulture graduate, started his career at the Woodrose Winery, and later partnered to establish William Chris Vineyards, which won gold and silver medals at the 2014 International Wine Awards in Lyon, France, and was named among the top Texas wineries by Texas Monthly and the San Antonio Express-News. He has also provided leadership roles in the wine and grape industry in both regional and state organizations.
“Chris is an outstanding young professional in every sense of the word,” wrote nominator Dr. Dan Lineberger, head of horticultural sciences at Texas A&M in College Station. “He is using the fundamentals of the education he received at Texas A&M to manage a very successful vineyard and winery. He is on the leadership fast track in professional wine organizations in Texas, is politically engaged in matters that influence his business and our programs and contributes substantially to the education of the next generation of Aggies who will follow him into his field.”
Salopek is a 2011 graduate of Texas A&M earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture. She grew up in the family’s pecan operation, 6U Farms, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. After graduating from Texas A&M, she worked in marketing communications for U.S. Pecans in Tifton, Georgia, and held other positions within the industry before founding her own retail business, Legacy Pecans, in Las Cruces. She frequently returns to Texas A&M to attend and interact with faculty at the Texas Pecan Short Course.
“The easiest road for most young people returning to their family business is to continue how the family has always done business,” wrote Monte Nesbitt, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist, College Station, in a nomination letter. “Heather is a fitting person to receive the Outstanding Early Career Alumni Award because of the courage and leadership exemplified in charting a new business path for her family.”
Townsend is a 1967 graduate of Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. Also known as “Dr. Joe” to many students, he is a distinguished professor emeritus at Texas A&M. He spent more than 40 years in the classroom and in administrative roles. Among his career notables at Texas A&M was establishing a new degree program, now known as Agricultural Leadership and Development, “which is one of the largest and most successful leadership-based degree programs in the U.S.,” wrote Kelsey Christian, nominator and director of development for the Texas A&M Foundation in College Station. Christian also noted Townsend’s establishment of the Minority Student Program at the college and its Office of Student Development “to fill the need for a dean-level student advocate position.”
“Dr. Joe is an educational visionary,” wrote Leroy “Shafe” Shafer, chief operating officer emeritus of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. “He is a consummate educator and administrator. The agriculture industry has benefitted greatly from his advice and the outstanding leaders he sent their way.”
Glockzin is a 1972 graduate of Texas A&M. He grew up on a small Brazos County farm and after graduation from Texas A&M, he went to work in the commercial poultry industry. Glockzin later started Brazos Valley Construction, which now manages over 38 affordable apartment properties in 25 Texas cities. He also owns EG Land and Livestock company, which has more than 3,000 cattle among ranching operations in Brazos, Limestone, Milam and Robertson counties.
Glockzin regularly gives back to 4-H, FFA and livestock shows, and is also involved in church, community and service to Texas A&M, according to the nomination.
“Emanuel is steeped in agricultural development and dedication since growing up on a small Brazos County farm where he learned from his dad how to work hard in agriculture to develop a lifetime of agriculture appreciation and dedication to community service,” wrote Dr. Larry Boleman, associate vice chancellor and dean of the college of agriculture and life sciences, in a support letter.
Kloeris is a 1978 graduate of Texas A&M with a bachelor’s in microbiology and a master’s degree in food science and technology. She is the manager of the International Space Station Food System for NASA/Johnson Space Center in Houston. According to the award nomination, Kloeris has contributed to scientific literature through the publication of research and co-authoring books that address various aspects of the human-food-health triad.
“As a result of her success in these leadership roles, Vickie is routinely contacted by members of other space agencies to provide input on the work they are doing,” wrote nominator Dr. Boon Chew, head of the department of nutrition and food science at Texas A&M in College Station.
Weston, a 1988 graduate of Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics, is the owner of Weston Properties in San Antonio. He also co-founded Weston Urban, which redevelops commercial properties in downtown San Antonio. According to the nomination, Weston is best known for providing seed capital and later management expertise to the startup tech company Rackspace, which he served as chief executive officer until 2006 when he became chairman. Under Weston’s guidance, the company went public in 2008 before being purchased by Apollo Global Management in 2016.
According to the nomination, the success of Rackspace brought with it a number of initiatives designed to attract more technology investment and job opportunities in San Antonio, particularly the downtown area. It also noted Weston is a regular contributor to Texas A&M student classes.
“Graham has made many presentations to students to motivate them and develop enthusiasm for transformation changes through their careers,” wrote nominator Dr. Kerry Litzenberg, presidential professor for teaching excellence and regents professor in the department of agricultural economics at Texas A&M in College Station. “When Graham Weston makes a class presentation, students listen and are motivated by his untiring dedication to transforming the people around here into their highest career potential.”